Register with GEF for FREE to enjoy these great benefits! 

    • member only contests and raffles

    • sustainability program news and updates

    • significant discounts at GEF Institute

Note: If you have problems registering, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Taking a GEF Institute Course? Login by clicking here.






Join Us

Sign Up for National Green Week!
Please note: Your privacy is very important to GEF. We do not share or sell any of your data.  It is with the sole purpose of providing you with relevant information that GEF will contact you.

Welcome to the Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Here, you can find free sustainability lessons to use in your class and upload your own lessons to share. Be sure to rate the lessons you use and leave comments for your colleagues!

All of GEF's lessons and programs are offered at no cost.  Become a member to support GEF and enjoy member only benefits! 
Join button_03

Professional Development

GEFinstitute LOGO_WEB GEF Institute offers affordable, online sustainability courses eligible for professional development or academic credit.
Give your resume a boost!

Sponsor a Teacher

Support educators in your community by helping them earn a Certificate in Sustainability or take an online course. Find out more about sponsorship!
Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

When Litter Becomes Harmful

Lesson Description:
Students will be able to ... 
  • Describe litter; explain how litter moves and its connection to water pollution.
  • Identify ways humans can help improve the environment by preventing litter.
  • Differentiate between point source and non-point source pollution.
  • Make observations and draw conclusions about a litter related event. 

Lesson Type:
  • Other

Sustainability Topic:
  • Waste Reduction

GEF Program Category:
  • Waste Reduction Challenge

Time Needed:
45 minutes
Standards Addressed:
Technology Standard 3: Understand the relationship among science, technology, society and
the individual.
  • Benchmark # 3: Know that man-made materials, products, and systems can affect the
environment adversely, yet there are things that can be done to circumvent this process (e.g., disposing of waste properly).

Science Standard 10: Understand force and motion.
  • Benchmark # 3; Know that the position of an object can be described by locating it relative
  • to another object or the background.
  • Benchmark # 5: Know things move in many different ways (e.g., straight line, circular motion).

Science Standard 12: Understand the nature of scientific inquiry.
  • Benchmark # 1: Know learning can come from careful observation and simple experiments.

Health Standard 2: Know environmental and external factors that affect individual and community
  • Benchmark # 1: Know the sources and causes of pollution in the community.

Language Arts Standard 2: Use stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing.
  • Benchmark # 1: Use descriptive words to convey basic ideas.
  • Benchmark # 2: Use declarative and interrogative sentences in written compositions.

Language Arts Standard 6: Use reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary text.
  • Benchmark # 1: Use reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of familiar literary

Materials Needed:
  • A copy of “Ibis: A True Whale Story” by John Himmelman
  • Art paper
  • Pencils and crayons
  • Protective gloves for litter collector
  • Collection bin
  • "Where Litter Ends up" Flow chart provided below
  • "Dangers of Plastic to Marine Life" poster provided below

School or Group:
Green Education Foundation (GEF)
Contact Email:
Located in: Science | Health | Language Arts

The Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse is brought to you in partnership with

Center for Green Schools